" The Gamble"

( I really am in the middle of my next post on Thomas Jefferson and slavery….I got sidetracked again… )

As I’ve stated in a few forums, and possibly here and there on this site, I was a supporter of President George W. Bush, and of the Iraqi war. I was not, and am not, in favor of a 16 month troop withdrawal deadline. But we as a nation are moving on, there is a new captain at the helm, and I am trying to stay open (minded and -is hearted a word?) Anyway, until this morning I was…

Thomas E. Ricks, senior Pentagon correspondent for the Washington Post and author of The Gamble, was being interviewed by Dick Gregory on ‘Meet the Press’. This is not a book review, and I may or may not get the book (only b/c I have a whole list of titles backed up & waiting for me! to read). But I felt an almost tingling, compelling sense of urgency to re-cap some of this interview here. Though I took notes, I was also trying to pay attention to the actual conversation, so I may be missing some names & exact dates, and I may end up crossing my i’s and dotting my t’s, but I’ll try to be as accurate as I possibly can…

The book’s full title is The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006 – 2008. The title would seem to be based on a summarizing remark made by a former infantry officer (who became a defense analyst for the Center for a New American Security.) Saying that the Iraqi war at best is likely to be ‘inconclusive’, the analyst called the war a ‘huge gamble’ for America, risking her future power and reputation on it. Ricks extrapolates from this statement his own conclusion that as a result of these risks, the Obama administration will need to be taking its own risks and gambles, in such a way as to make the first year of ‘Obama’s war’ even tougher than the last year of ‘Bush’s war’. According to Ricks, (and I agree) “alot of people back here incorrectly think the war is over.” His thinking on this is that we may only be halfway through the war in Iraq. Ricks cites U.S.ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker as saying that the events for which this war will be remembered haven’t even happened yet.

Of great concern to Mr. Ricks are the simultaneous events of a series of Iraqi elections being held during U.S troop withdrawals. When forces are needed most, their numbers will be least. And not only least, but lesser numbers in the more dangerous areas, which we will vacate last, as elections near their culmination.

The author says that while the surge was successful militarily, it was not so politically. The U.S. commander in Iraq, General Odierno, says that the ‘breathing space’ that was created by this strategy, intended to provide opportunity for a national reconciliation, actually allowed for just the opposite. Greater sectarianism has resulted. More division. Odierno says the people have stepped backward.

This General wants to see 35.000 troops left in Iraq – by 2015.

(Ricks states during this interview that there will come a time, during an earlier withdrawal process, when the generals will say, we don’t want to do this, it is too dangerous.)

Too dangerous….2015….issues for extremely serious consideration, as I see it.


Author’s note: For more of this interview, see Transcript .